Originally Posted by Limited Visibility
I have the same question as schweaty. I usually steep in my 2.5 gallons, but I will try with the 3 quarts next time. After steeping to I go ahead and top off my boil so its 2.5 gallons?
Although I have not yet brewed my first batch, I can answer this with a bit of theory:
If you use the smaller amount of water to avoid extracting tannins with the normal amount of grain, you will get exactly what you want. The idea here is that if you used too much water, you would be extracting too much from the grains, and therefore getting the tannins, but with the lesser amount of water you will extract what you want without over-extracting.
Main reference: Good Eats episode "True Brew", season 2 ep. 7
In this episode, Alton describes how people have a tendency to say that they don't like strong coffee, but in reality they don't like *bitter* coffee. So they cut back on the coffee grains they use, and the coffee turns out more bitter because the smaller amount of coffee is being over-extracted.
I would assume the same problem is happening with specialty grains in beer brewing...